20 Successful People Who Battled Depression

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What do Mozart, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terry Bradshaw, and Abe Lincoln have in common? And what do they have to do with you? Today's the day to find out.

In a given year, more than 18 million American adults – nearly 10 percent of the adult population – will suffer from a depressive illness.

So odds are good that you, a relative, or a co-worker has or will experience depression – and the cost of depression. Consider these stats…

  • Depression is the leading cause of disability in men and women.
  • Depression causes an estimated 200 million lost workdays a year – which costs employers $17 to $44 billion.
  • During the two years leading up to a diagnosis, the total excess health care costs and absence-from-work costs for people with undiagnosed depression is about $3,386 per person.
  • Suicide kills about 37,000 people a year in the U.S. – that’s more than the number of car crash deaths.
  • The cost of depression to society is an estimated $70 to $80 billion a year in the U.S.

While two-thirds of depressed people don’t seek help, 80 percent of those who do improve their lives significantly – which is why we’re informing you today is National Depression Screening Day. So check out these free self-assessments if you or a loved one is among that two-thirds:

As these famous survivors of depression prove, the illness can affect anyone, comes in various forms, and has various causes  – but doesn’t have to disable you…

  1. Retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin struggled with depression and alcoholism after walking on the moon with Apollo 11. “When I felt the paralyzing gloom coming on, I’d begin to drink heavily,” he wrote in his book “Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home From the Moon.” “The situation progressed into depressive-alcoholic binges in which I would withdraw like a hermit into my apartment.”
  2. Former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw was diagnosed with clinical depression and put on the antidepressant Paxil CR about 12 years ago, according to USA Today. “Depression is a physical illness,” he said in a 2004 article. “When you’re clinically depressed the serotonin in your brain is out of balance… So I take medication to get that proper balance back.”
  3. Former U.S. senator and Florida governor Lawton Chiles – who never lost an election – was treated for depression with Prozac after retiring from the Senate in 1989.
  4. Former British prime minister Winston Churchill referred to his recurring bouts of depression as “the black dog.”
  5. Former U.S. president Calvin Coolidge showed “distinct signs of clinical depression” after his son died at age 16, according to the book “The Tormented President: Calvin Coolidge, Death, and Clinical Depression.”
  6. Comedian and actor Rodney Dangerfield suffered from depression that required regular visits to psychiatrists, according to The New York Times.
  7. Photographer, author, and former second lady Tipper Gore was treated for depression with counseling and medication after her son almost died in a 1989 car accident. “I know how important good mental health care can be because I personally benefited from it,” she later wrote in USA Today.
  8. Carpenter Paige Hemmis, best known for her work on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, has been diagnosed with a major depressive disorder that caused inexplicable crying fits, insomnia, and binge eating, according to People. She beat the depression with counseling and antidepressants and now keeps it under control with enough sleep and regular exercise.
  9. British actor Hugh Laurie, who played Dr. House on the TV drama House, first went public about his depression in 1996, according to BBC News.
  10. Former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln is believed to have suffered from depression throughout his life. He “dripp[ed] melancholy,” says Josh Shenk, author of “The Melancholy of Abraham Lincoln.”
  11. Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart “appeared to be profoundly depressed” when his wife was ill in 1789, according to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. “During 1790 his depression became more persistent so that it interfered with his output of music.”
  12. British scientist Sir Isaac Newton “was a difficult man, prone to depression and often involved in bitter arguments with other scientists,” according to the BBC.
  13. Comedian, actress, and talk show host Rosie O’Donnell has spoken openly about having suffered from depression throughout her life and taking antidepressants for it.
  14. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow (pictured) suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of her second child. “I thought postpartum depression meant you were sobbing every single day and incapable of looking after a child,” she told Good Housekeeping. “But there are different shades of it and depths of it, which is why I think it’s so important for women to talk about.”
  15. Actor Brad Pitt “used to deal with depression,” he told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year. “I got really sick of myself at the end of the 1990s… I was doing the same thing every night and numbing myself to sleep – the same routine: Couldn’t wait to get home and hide out.”
  16. British author J.K. Rowling, best known for the “Harry Potter” series, went public several years ago about having battled depression and suicidal thoughts in her 20s.
  17. Actress Brooke Shields suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter Rowan in 2003. She later wrote in The New York Times that counseling and the antidepressant Paxil “saved” her and her family.
  18. Author William Styron suffered from crippling depression and suicidal thoughts later in life, which he chronicled in his best-seller “Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness.”
  19. Actress Uma Thurman “has confessed she spent years suffering depression and self-loathing, even when she was one of Hollywood’s most successful actresses,” according to Contact Music.
  20. Journalist Mike Wallace first experienced “a classical, clinical depression” in the early 1980s, he said during an interview with the Academy of Achievement. “I was copeless; not just hopeless, but copeless. I tried to keep on working because I was ashamed of acknowledging the fact that I was depressed.” A psychiatrist treated Wallace with counseling and the antidepressant Ludiomil, and he later went public “for the reason that it can be helpful for other people to say, ‘Well look, here’s a guy who was at the bottom of the heap, miserable, and look, he has it back.'”
Stacy Johnson

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